An American author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, he is best known for novels such as First Light (1987), The Feast of Love (2000), and The Soul Thief (2008). His poetry collections include Chameleon (1970) and Imaginary Paintings (1989).
He received his PhD in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo and subsequently taught high school in Michigan for a year.
For many years, he was the director of the University of Michigan's creative writing graduate program.
He married Martha Ann Hauser in 1976.
He wrote his dissertation on the work of Nathaniel West.